During the last year, I did an exchange year in Ireland.
In this program, students go abroad for 10 months and get to experience another culture, by living in a hostfamily and going to a local school. I decided to do my exchange in Ireland and was placed in a kind hostfamily in County Meath. Their house was in a small village on the countryside called „Carnaross". My school was just a 10 min. ride away from the house, which I travelled every morning on the school bus.
My Irish life was completely different than my life back home in Austria. Though there were some similarities that helped me settled in quiet soon and adapt quickly in the beginning. The key was to keep the expectations low. It is the most given trick, that former students tell you and I can only confirm that it really helps. You are actually able to avoid disappointments that way and won't be let down. I definitely used that technique and got great joy out of it.
I got along exceptionally well with my host family and the kids. I'm a family person and it made things a lot easier to live in a loving host family, where we had a great laugh. We got on brilliantly and had a great time. I'm thankful to have been placed there. They treated me like a family member and went on loads of trips, where I got to see placed all over Ireland. That was great and I’m very grateful for all the good things they have done for me.
Throughout the year, I got to know myself even better than I did before. With all the new placed I got to see, all the new people I got to meet and all the activities I did, I was able to find out what I like more specific and what I want to do in life. An exchange year is an excellent opportunity to grow on a personal basis. It helps you get independent, challenges you to talk to other people, face your fears and gain new life-skills. In my case, I learnt to be more aware and thoughtful of my words and talked to so many new people.
Additionally, to the personal growth, my year abroad helped me to get a full vocabulary. I was surrounded by the English language with an Irish accent and picked up the slang and accent soon. With a few tips and tricks, I was soon able to communicate without any problems with the locals and extend my vocabulary every single day.
All in all, I would recommend an exchange year. I honestly don´t know if I would go to Ireland a second time. It is in Europe and the European Union, which has countless benefits and can make the communication a lot easier, but you always have to cope with some challenges. An exchange year has its up and downs, but in the end, you will just look back on the good experiences and I am definitely more than grateful that I had the chance to live in Ireland.